“Leaders have more trouble than anybody else when it comes to receiving feedback, particularly about how they’re doing as leaders.” – Daniel Goleman, Primal Leadership
I learned while serving as Lead Minister in a prior ministry that it was difficult to receive feedback from the eldership and those who reported to me. I created a formal system of evaluation and feedback for the organization that was administered twice a year. This proved to be insufficient.
In the ministry that I currently serve as Senior Minister I maintain ongoing feedback through monthly one-on-one meetings with staff and elders. One question that I ask is “Have you seen me do or heard me say something that either you disagreed with or thought, ‘I wouldn’t have done it that way or said it that way?’”
This is valuable time for me. I learn a lot from these meetings. It provides a scheduled opportunity for me to listen. Problems are more readily identified and addressed. It is also an opportunity to give thanks and praise, and communicate vision. There’s prayer and conversation and it goes both ways. I love what I get to do and who I get to serve with.
When leaders do not listen, they can become “out of touch and out of tune.” Goleman calls this “CEO disease.” Listening well helps a leader to recognize the organizational reality and involve individuals to create a healthy culture. The leader empowers the team to recognize the best and worst of the organization to not only come up with solutions and reach alignment but to develop a common language and create attunement.
To move an organization towards resonance it is not enough to have a vision and strategy. You must have a healthy culture, new leadership mindsets, and new behaviors.
Our behaviors determine our culture. So our staff developed Four Organizational Habits.
We practice these four habits in light of God’s mission and his vision for our congregation. Listening to God and people help us to work collaboratively for the good of our organization and God’s kingdom.
In our organization we must bend towards community, giving encouragement and feedback to one another. Through this practice we are learning to work through difficult topics, communicate dissent, give genuine praise, express gratitude, and have fun together.
I like that last part. I believe healthy communication makes for a healthy organization. This not only creates alignment but more importantly attunement, and that’s when the fun begins!
How do you practice listening in your organization? What do you think is needed for a healthy organizational culture?
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